With the advent of technological and scientific advancement in 21st century, certain ethical issues have sprung up in nearly all aspects of the criminal justice system resulting into need to reorganize the criminal justice system to portray this reality. It is therefore of paramount importance the judicially system should be very flexible and responsive to these contemporary laws issues in order to be able to adapt to new order of executing justice since the key role of the judiciary is to ensure just and fair trial of all and ensure that the basic fundamental rights of both the plaintiff and the defendant are protected.
Such new realities include issue relating to but not limited to; terrorism, drugs abuse , the death penalty, race and gender issues, solving crime with new technology, and reviewing older crime prevention programs (e. g. , probation, parole) and health issues related to corrections (Lazer, 2004). This paper attempts to explore the ethical issues that that varies in the process of a trial, the resultant challenges faced by the bench in this century and the emerging trends as exhibited by different rulings.
It is acknowledged that the malfunctions the criminal justice system has and can still lead to the conviction of innocent individuals hence the need to identify system errors with the aim to improve the criminal justice system.. A major ethical issue that has come to be realized in the process of executing justice is the DNA debate.
Lazer (Lazer, 2004) argues that there seem to be exhibition of common understanding among the stakeholders that the importance and collection of DNA profiles will grow in the determination of court cases but some recognize that the difference between DNA and either fingerprints or other medical information raises severe problems concerning inappropriate uses, erosion of rights, and discrimination.
He further explains that DNA analysis may be very genuinely if done diligently and professionally long after it is deposited at a crime scene, it undercuts the rationale of statutes of limitations for prosecutions and time limits on the presentation of new evidence after conviction. At the same time, the DNA analysis need to be entrenched into the legal system fully since it offers away of obtaining authentic information other than the match of a source sample to a crime scene sample and to confirm the identity of a source like hereditary linkages, ethnicity and medical conditions.
However, the ethical issues that arise from the DNA analysis are centered on the need for genetic privacy since acquisition of DNA should be out of free will rather than coercion (Lazer, 2004). The new technologies have today enabled forensic scientists, unearth evidence from an analysis of ones;’ blood, body fluids and tissues in attempt to prove ones’ innocence and avoid wrongful convictions (Lazer, 2004). Substance abuse and other mental disorders also raise ethical issues in criminal justice system .
the victims however needs proper medication , a and the treatment normally given have opiate effects such as methadone or buprenorphine which are opposed by many in the prison and parole system as being too close to heroin. However, an FDA approved medication that specifically prevents relapse to opiate addiction, but has no opiate effects of its own. Therefore the issue that is normally raised by judges and managers of probation and parole programs is the question of the ethics of giving someone a medication that blocks opiate receptors while incarcerated or on probation(. uphs. upenn. edu, 2004)
The Cases According to NCADP(NCADP, 2003), the death penalty information centre’s records indicate that More than 118 people have been exonerated after conviction from death row since 1972, including 21 from the state of Florida and 18 from the state of Illinois on ethical grounds The organization, attempts to justify its argument by giving an example of a case of on March 28, 1998 in Florida where a convicted Leo Jones was convicted of murdering a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. It is revealed that the accused signed a confession allegedly after long period of police interrogation.
The accused later disowned the confession claiming that it was made under coercion and torture. But he later, the police who arrested and interrogated him was sacked and forced out of the job for ethic al violations; a realty confirmed by his colleagues and several witnesses. Though Jones was finally executed in 1998, after being exonerated by the lower court, a member of the bench who favored a retrial has been reported as saying that he casts serious doubt on Jones’ guilt based on the new evidence found after the trial, a hint to a possibility of judicial error and the e ethical issue regarding murder cases.
Therefore, due to the politicized nature of death penalty cases,, which may determine election of judges and attorneys, the NCADP explains that there is a ethical dilemma as some of the judges and prosecutors are motivated to sentence as many defendants to death as they possibly can to maintain a record of being “tough on crime”, (NCADP, 2003).
At the same time, the existence of high emotional and tempers in murder cases the law enforcement officers are usually under pressure to quickly solve the cases yet Such pressure may lead to misconduct by the investigators and prosecutors NCADP, 2003), the ruling for execution by high voltage electric chair also raised ethical issues as the opponents of death penalty argued that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the U. S. Constitution (Candiotti, 1997).
Another example of a case with ethical judicial dimension is the California Supreme Court’s decision in City of Long Beach v. Bozek, 33 Cal. 3d 727 (1983). According to Jeppesen (Jeppesen, 2006) in the case, the Court passed a ruling that that the Constitution prohibits a public entity from suing a citizen for malicious prosecution. Therefore, according to the ruling, a government agency may not use the threat of tort damages to chill a citizen’s right of access to the courts, an aspect of the right to petition the government for redress of grievances (Jeppesen, 2006).
The resolution according to Jeppesen implied that it would provide justifiable protection from frivolous litigation and provide ethical relief from costs incurred should a defendant face such frivolous litigation (Jeppesen, 2006). However, the article points out that this is not the same as a malicious prosecution action since “malice” is not required, but this code section change would force a would-be litigant to seriously consider whether this is a proper action to bring before a court (Jeppesen, 2006).
The case gave rise to a precedent that unless the action specifically falls under “malicious prosecution” under Government Code section 821. 6 for liability of public employees, Penal Code sections 1447 and 1448 for criminal actions brought wherein the defendant is subsequently exonerated, or Penal Code section 374. 2 with respect to discharge or release by sewers or sewer systems, there is no protection (Jeppesen, 2006). Conclusion
Based on the above discussion, it is crucial that proper investigation, crime scene procedures, interviews, interrogations, surveillances, and sources of information; collection and preservation of physical evidence; investigative techniques in specific crimes should be observed to avoid wrongful conviction (Allen et al, 2007). It is therefore important that the concerned judges closely examine all case well since, there can be no “public interest” in providing a taxpayer-funded defense for ethical violations committed by a judge. The public interest is to avoid “assisting” in ethical breaches.
See State ex rei,Dunbar v. State Bd. of Equalization, 140 Wash. 433, 440, 249 P. 996, 999(courts. wa. gov, 2007). Allen and his colleagues argue that there is need for proper training and education to impart good behavior and professional standards which are critical in ensuring ethical judiciary. Such activities will not only improve the reasoning capacities of the concerned parties but also ensure that they understand and appreciate the ethical consequences of various actions or inactions (Allen et al, 2007).
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